Author Interview With Drew Karpyshyn

Posted: April 10, 2015 in Author Interview
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I conducted this interview with Drew Karpyshyn over on Bookkaholic.com but that site has gone on hiatus so I wanted to bring the chat over here for you all to see.

Drew Karpyshyn

Author Drew Karpyshyn has had an incredible career in the sci-fi/fantasy world. Working for the video game company BioWare as a writer on Star Wars: The Old Republic and Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, as well as several others, gave him experience to write novels set in the Star Wars and Mass Effect universes. Not being into video games myself, his Star Wars: Darth Bane books were my first exposure to his writing. After multiple Star Wars and Mass Effect novels, he has published Children Of Fire, the first in the Chaos Born Trilogy, set in a world of his very own making. The Scorched Earth, the second in the trilogy, released this month. I had the great fortune to ask Drew a few questions.

 

RS: Drew, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. I know you are very busy with the second book in your Chaos Born trilogy releasing this month. This must be quite an exciting time. You have definitely put in a lot of effort to get to this place. Congratulations on your hard-earned success.

DK: Thanks, Rachel. As much as I’ve loved working on great franchises like Mass Effect and Star Wars, there’s something extra gratifying about being able to share something with the fans that I created completely on my own. The Chaos Born trilogy is my take on the fantasy I read growing up: The Sword of ShanarraThe BelgariadDragonlance and of course Lord of the RingsThe Scorched Earth continues the story that began in Children of Fire, and I’m very excited for readers to see what happens next!

 

RS: With all you have going on, you are still quite active on your blog. In one series of entries you discuss your process for writing a novel. From idea conception and detailed outlines through release date, you know where your story is going. How does this process stretch to covering a whole series like the Chaos Born trilogy or the Star Wars: Darth Bane series? Do you already know the entire story arc of the series, or does one novel impact the story for the next?

DK: It’s confession time: the Darth Bane books weren’t originally planned as a trilogy! When I wrote Path of Destruction, I was focused only on the first book; it was my debut Star Wars novel, and I honestly didn’t know if it would be popular enough for them to want me to come back again. Obviously, I left some open-ended threads in the book in case I wanted to continue the story, but I hadn’t given any thought to what would happen in Book 2 or 3. With the Chaos Born trilogy it was different: I planned this to be an epic story spanning three books right from the very beginning. The ending of Book 1 has a bit of a cliffhanger, and Book 2 continues right where it left off. It’s one single story that I’ve planned out start to finish, whereas the Bane novels were individual stories that were linked through the main character.

 

RS: Do you have any “I’m going to sit down and write today” rituals? (Favorite sweat pants, cuppa joe, isolation…what-have-you.)

DK: For me, it’s really just about finding time to sit down in front of my keyboard and not get distracted with Facebook, Twitter or general Internet time-sinks. I often write late at night, in a room with a single light, because I like the feel of a dark, empty world all around me: it’s like it inspires me to fill in the void with my ideas. But I sometimes write in the morning or in the middle of the day, too, and to be honest I think the quality is just as good.

 

RS: At this point in your career you are quite established in the sci-fi/fantasy publishing world, but do you ever go back and check out open call sites where you got your foot in the door, just for fun?

DK: That’s something I haven’t done. I actually got my start with an open call from Wizards of the Coast looking for new authors in their Forgotten Realms series, so I think there is value in them. But at this stage of my career I’m lucky enough that I don’t need to look for an “in” with the industry. I can focus my time and energy on whatever project I’m working on.

 

RS: Do you feel more pressure writing for established universes like Star Wars and Mass Effect or for works of your very own?

DREW: It’s a different kind of pressure for each one. With an existing franchise like Star Wars, the pressure is to make sure you stay true to the existing universe and deliver something fans of that franchise will want. I spend more time researching existing stories and canon, because I don’t want to be the guy who undercuts something that’s already beloved. With my Chaos Born trilogy, I have free reign to do whatever I want, but there’s the uncertainty of wondering if fans will actually like what I’m doing; you don’t have a built-in audience like with Star Wars, so you need to draw readers in and keep them hooked. And you don’t know exactly what the fans are looking for, because there aren’t previous examples of stories people connected with. As for Mass Effect, it falls somewhere in the middle: it is an existing franchise, but it’s one I had a hand in helping to create from scratch, so I kind of feel both kinds of pressure at the same time.

 

RS: George R.R. Martin is the king of killing off characters. Do you feel any kind of loss when it comes time to kill off a character that you have spent months, even years, with?

DREW: I do feel a bit of loss when a character who has become important to the story goes down. Some readers may disagree, but I generally try to make sure these deaths have meaning and purpose; I don’t want them to be pointless or simply done for shock value. I plan out my stories in detailed outlines, so I know who is going to die before I start writing, and I know why and what purpose I want that death to serve. So the whole time I’m writing that character, I’m aware of their impending doom. The trick is not to accidentally telegraph it too early, but still give enough hints that readers don’t feel like you’re cheating when it happens.

You can find Drew’s many great novels on Amazon.

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